30th September 2021
By Andy Oattes – Director of Sales UK and Ireland Fine Sounds UK.
Do you remember listening to music before the advent of streaming? I do and it was a very different experience to the one that we have promoted and engaged in over the years since networked entertainment became the major driving force.
You could say more comforting in its simplicity, it was (is!) very easy to pick-up a piece of vinyl or a CD and play your music….It was simpler but also many times more limited in the amount of content available to us on demand. You could say, actually, both good and bad. But the emphasis was very much more towards high performance and the business model for integrators made a lot more sense to me: a happier customer with a system that genuinely thrilled them and the added bonus of better margin for your business - a win-win. The great irony has been that with the move towards networked systems, we, for a period of time at least, traded very consciously, ease of use of the system for the quality of music reproduction. And in doing so, we traded profitability for commodity. Now there are many good reasons for deploying systems that work for your clients - I get that.
But I think we forgot about how great sound is a VITAL component of any system. And I think we lost our interest in high performance music systems along the way.
The same can be said about most areas of technology in our homes; technology has the potential to drastically improve our lives, but sometimes, while the tech is developing, our ability to engage with content, in particular, in the way we want for us and our clients is made harder, less intuitive and more costly. Ultimately if not planned and implemented properly, we can have a situation develop where a high spending client has a poor performing audio and video solution but a very high tech costly system. We’re designing the system around the control and not towards performance and inadvertently engineering out failure as the priority, but to the determinant of the end product.
I don’t know about you, but I generally want to amaze my customers and the surest way of doing that is by pressing the play button on a great system!
As someone who truly believes in the power of music and why it matters to have the very best reproduction of music that you can afford, (it’s been proven that music reproduction is good for us at a neurological level). But I fully accept that the ability to access your music intuitively matters greatly. And this is why, for me, like a lot of what you see in the world when you’ve been around long enough, is that things happen in cycles. Finally, I believe we are getting back to a point that you don’t need to sacrifice high performance systems for commoditized solutions because you’re scared of reliability and ease of access. Finally systems are available that are easy to use and reliable AND amazing in their ability to sound superb! THAT is something to celebrate.
In the last 10 or so years since the advent of systems such as the Logitech Squeezebox and other early networked music devices that were early tech, intolerably difficult to use and created a flow of customers and businesses in our space away from quality and towards commodity but reliable systems. We have seen many, many evolutions and advances in the technology. I look to streaming services such as Tidal with a play direct capability, Spotify with connect, Qobuz which is marching onwards, Roon with their amazing platform and MQA which has always strived towards the highest reproduction possible and I feel very optimistic about where we are going.
As I’ve got your attention, did you notice that vinyl is still growing year on year? It’s no surprise to me that something so simple and so high performance continues to grow. In this new world of over-consumption, perhaps I and our customers need to get back to the simpler pleasure of a great system. If you’ve never experienced one, believe me, you need to.
So, what I’m saying is explore high performance audio and video systems in your projects, work with your clients to provide them the very best they can achieve. Make Music front and centre of your agenda. I know, many, many customers that have become life-long friends because I did exactly that. They’ve gone onto find a lot of happiness in their homes with a great audio system….Make it happen.
Ci-Fi is simply, “Custom install Hi-Fidelity”.